ISLAMABAD, Sept 30: A 'warehouse' of the US embassy in the I-9 Industrial Area of the capital was sealed on Friday because it was built without the approval of civic authorities.
“It was a warehouse of the US embassy which was established a few months ago for storage facility,” the embassy's spokesman Mark Stroh told Dawn .
He said the warehouse had been set up to store some furniture and other goods.
“We were doing some renovation work of the warehouse for which we have already sought permission from the Capital Development Authority (CDA).”
The spokesman rejected a perception that the warehouse was being used for any covert US mission.
Source in the CDA said that during the sealing operation they had seen large boxes in the warehouse and some of them were taken away by US nationals who were there.
They said the warehouse built on a 1.5-acre plot covered about 25,000 square feet in violation of CDA rules.
“We went to the warehouse on complaint of some residents of the sector and sealed the building as it was being constructed without approval of the CDA,” the authority's Director General (Planning) Sarwar Sindhu said.
CDA officials said the warehouse was under construction and belonged to one Mehboob Elahi who had got changed the status of plot changed from industrial to warehouse a few months ago. Earlier, the place was used for a beverage factory.
Electronic media highlighted the issue throughout the day, saying that 'a bunker or a hideout of Americans' had been sealed or raided.
“We had information that a building was being constructed in the industrial area in violation of CDA's building laws on which we raided the building,” another official said.
He said more than half of the construction work had been completed.
Replying to a question, he said no US national had been found in the building.
“We saw four American nationals outside the building when we left after sealing it but they neither resisted nor said anything to us,” the CDA official said.
When contacted, CDA Chairman Imtiaz Inayat Elahi said the staff had gone to the warehouse in accordance with the routine procedure as the authority had earlier served notice to its owners to remove the building law violations.
“As the owner of the industrial plot had not responded to the notice, our staff went there to take action,” he said.